Answer: it's a trick question.
It's a trick because it involves a number of assumptions about what it means to offer personal attention. It assumes that personal attention is a linear phenomenon -- that each new customer will require five new minutes per day of customer service time, or whatever the case may be. It assumes that we the company are responsible for delivering that personal attention. And -- most fundamentally -- it assumes that personal attention must be delivered by a person to begin with. These are all assumptions that can lead us astray. Here are three ways personal attention can scale:
Another example is Facebook, which is not known for having a team of customer service folks at the ready to take your calls. What they do have, however, is a product that is epitomizes personal attention, not from the company, but from friends and family. We go to Facebook because we like it when people we know pay attention to our posts.
"Usability design" is wholly about personal attention. We love Adwords because it's so simple for us to be entirely in control. And frustration with a website generally stems from a sense that the designers don't care about us. If they did, surely they would have put themselves in our shoes and realized how much better they can make our lives.
In the end, personal attention is about empathy. What is the experience for your customer, for your website visitor, for your community member? Do they need you to hold their hand and listen to them in private? Or can you create a personal experience on a grand scale? I'd love to hear how you're scaling your own personal attention, so get in touch on Twitter or leave me a comment. Just be warned -- I'll probably answer questions in public.